Loretta Schneider had worked for SIUE’s Catering Services since 2003, and now former employees and co-workers remember her after her death.
Special Event Facilitator Patricia Apponey worked alongside Schneider throughout the years. She said before COVID-19, the two worked side by side in their office to handle upcoming events which the university was in charge of catering too.
“If the client called, they could call her directly with a catering menu. She would write it up and hand it to me to put it in our software,” Apponey said. “She would have to do the pricing for the event, so it was a matter of [us] working side by side asking, ‘Can you do this?’”
Over their years as co-workers Apponey said their relationship started to become a friendship outside of work too. This is something she said was bound to happen.
“Little by little you start as co-workers, but as time goes by you become friends. She was great. She had a wonderful sense of humor,” she said.
Apponey said she noticed Schneider’s hardworking demeanor immediately. She said sometimes Schneider would work overtime to fulfill her duties.
“I have never seen a woman work as hard as she did. She’d come in early in the morning [and] work until late evening, because there could be multiple events in one given day. She did everything for the event to make the client happy, whether it was an off-campus group or a department, she gave them above and beyond what they needed,” Apponey said.
Director of Dining Services Dennis Wobbe had begun working at the university after Schneider did, but worked with her frequently as he was her boss. He said her job as special events coordinator was always busy, and she fulfilled multiple jobs daily.
“Sometimes we could have multiple events in one day,” Wobbe said. “They could be small events she would have to cater to, or sometimes ones with over 300 people. She would have to make sure she had enough student workers to cover each event.”
Wobbe said he started at his position in 2008, and has worked with Schneider throughout the past 13 years. He said Schneider was kind, hard-working and caring.
Ashley Hofreiter, former employee of Schneider, worked from 2006 to 2009 while she attended the university. Hofreiter said she enjoyed working at Catering Services while in college, namely because of Schneider’s ability to make the workplace enjoyable.
“She was an exceptional boss and really took an interest in getting to know you as an employee,” Hofreiter said. “A lot of that came from the fact that she valued family so much. She and her husband actually fostered some kids along with their own biological kids they had. I think she really just had a passion for working with youths and young adults.”
Since a majority of Schneider’s employees were college students, Hofreiter said she acted as her student employees’ mother for those who were away from home. She said Schneider would go as far as calling her college employees her kids.
“When we would walk into wherever we were, she’d say, ‘OK kids,’” Hofreiter said. “I think that felt really intimate and personal to us. In college you think you have it all figured out, which maybe seems true at the time. You have problems or issues [and] you are trying to figure things out. Lori was just somebody trustworthy you could go to. She wasn’t going to preach at you or tell you what to do. I think her biggest asset is that she would actually listen and would offer feedback.”
To this day, Hofreiter said she is friends with some of her old co-workers at Catering Services. She attributes this to Schnieder being able to maintain an enjoyable atmosphere at work for her employees.
“My friend and I went down to the visitation and we were talking about how the thing we kept circling back to was if it wasn’t for Lori being such a great boss, then we wouldn’t all be friends still,” Hofreiter said. “We probably would have left the job and wouldn’t have become the friends we are. I feel she’s kind of the key piece to a lot of [Catering Services] friendships and a couple marriages.”